"The Church of the future would be the Catholic Church. He based this not so much on his own knowledge of Catholicism. The Church of the future would be due to organization. The Catholic Church, he said, would overcome the broken sects of Protestantism as easily as the regular army would defeat a mob of strikers. Independence in religion was chaos in religion. Let each man be his own pope, and you have religious anarchy, which is the same thing as sectarianism. Catholicism and Agnosticism [Infidelity] would divide the twentieth century between them."
How remarkable it is that the very liberty which the Bible commends is regarded by many as "religious anarchy." In the early Church each believer was expected to prove individually every item of his belief. They were to accept nothing as a congregation, nor as a denomination. Thus each was to be bound only to Christ, and, so far as others were concerned, each one was to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, and not to be entangled with any human yoke of bondage. They had no denominational "ties," no clerical "fetters," no creed "yoke," no traditional "chains." Each one united to Christ could not do otherwise than "love the brethren," and "love the truth," as well as love the Lord; and this love constituted the only bond that held their hearts and lives together. Love to the Lord made them attentive to his Word through the apostles, and watchful for his providential leadings in all who attempted to teach them in his name—attentive to prove all that they heard, to reject all not in harmony, and to accept and hold fast all that, according to that standard, they found "good."
But now the general sentiment is union: small unions and large unions are proposed; and all who would return to the primitive method of individual liberty will more and more be anathematized as "heretics" and "religious anarchists," just as they were during the dark ages when the outward union was most complete. Let all who are the Lord's stand fast in the liberty which his truth alone can give; but let them avoid arrogance, and in meekness "speak the truth in love."
"A gentleman writes from Italy: I hear that Pope Leo is devoting considerable time daily to the study of the literature bearing upon the question of Anglican orders. He is disposed to abolish the law of compulsory celibacy for the secular clergy, confining its obligation to members of religious orders who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It is not generally known that secular priests make no vows, though the law of the Roman Church forbids them to marry, and annuls their marriages if contracted in defiance of its precepts. This is a point of ecclesiastical discipline which applies only to the secular clergy of the Latin rite.
"It is well known that the Oriental clergy of the various Eastern rites who are in communion with Rome are allowed to marry, provided they do so before reception of the order of priesthood. His Holiness, therefore, in order to facilitate the reunion of the Anglican Church with the Roman, is favorable to the extension of the same privilege to the secular clergy of the Latin rite. In point of fact, the sovereign pontiff is well aware that the law of compulsory celibacy has become a dead letter among the parochial clergy throughout South America, from Mexico to Patagonia, and to a great extent also in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the dependencies of those countries. Cardinal Vaughan and the Anglo-Roman Bishops generally are unfavorable to any change in the existing discipline, but Dr. Brownlow, Bishop of Clifton, and Dr. Hedley, Bishop of Newport and Menevia, are believed to entertain the same sentiments as the Pope on this question."
The Episcopal Church of the United States proposes a change of its constitution. It is proposed to district the United States into "Provinces," in each of which there shall be a legislative body competent to manage all of the affairs of the Province (as do the State Legislatures in civil affairs). It is proposed to have a more definite head and mouth than ever before for doctrinal utterances;—that all questions of doctrine shall be submitted to the House of Bishops, whose decisions shall be final. Furthermore, it is proposed to elect one of the bishops a chief, to be called Primus, and in position therefore to correspond to the Roman Pontiff.
This means that four thousand ministers and nearly half a million communicants shall, even more completely than at present, give up the liberty wherewith Christ proposed to make them free, and come completely under a yoke of bondage. It means probably much more. It is probably an outline or skeleton of the great Protestant Union, sure to come, clearly outlined in God's Word as an image or likeness to Papacy.
In Manitoba about one-fifth of the population is Catholic, and four-fifths Protestant. It had been the custom to divide the school funds of the State and let each sect have its own schools; but this was abandoned in 1890, and a free secular school system was introduced, similar to that in vogue in the United States. The Roman Catholics have since been fighting to get their share and have their separate schools. They appealed to the Canadian Parliament in the matter, and afterward to the Privy Council of Great Britain, and have been supported in their demands. But the people of Manitoba are so pleased with their present unsectarian schools that they threaten rebellion rather than abandon them.
"The restoration will never be made: Manitoba has too keen a sense of justice, too much regard for truth and equity....As a civilized people attempting to realize in a measure the ideals of the nineteenth century, Manitobans will not quietly submit to the preposterous demand that they should turn back the wheels of progress three hundred years."
Both France and Spain have been on the verge of Revolution during the past month. Indeed nothing is more evident than that discontent and revolt are the order of the day in matters religious, political, social and family. What little there is of national cohesion in Europe seems to be largely the result of fear of each other. Take away that fear, and disband the armies as has been proposed, and the result would surely be general revolution and anarchy within two years, probably within one year.
Thus we see the social "earth" ready for the great social conflagration predicted in God's Word—"the day that shall burn as an oven," in which "the proud and all that do wickedly [unjustly] shall be as stubble," the great "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." But not yet: the conflagration must not come, the winds of war must not seriously blow, until the servants of God have first been "sealed in their foreheads" (intellectually) with the truth. Then the great storm predicted for twenty-five centuries will come "as a whirlwind." But meantime men speak of the assured peace of Europe, while France finds that her army is inferior to that of Germany by over one hundred thousand men, and proceeds to increase her army as an assurance of peace; and Great Britain finds that her navy is insufficient to maintain her dignity as the mistress of the sea, and will increase her navy.
It seems a difficult matter for human brains to arrange laws which will protect the weaker elements of society from the mentally, physically and financially stronger elements without violating principles of justice and equality. For instance, the Illinois Legislature passed laws to prevent the employment of women in factories more than eight hours per day. The object was to benefit women by such restriction, and to do away with "the sweating system." But the Illinois Supreme Court has decided that the help cannot be constitutionally afforded in this manner; that such a law would be a restraint of a woman's rights to work as long as a man may work if she pleases,—a discrimination as between men and women the State constitution forbids.
It is a sad case: competition and necessities on the one hand are grinding the life out of fellow beings, yet when benevolent people would render help justice, which all are bound to respect, says, Holding that men and women are equal, no legislation for or against either sex can be allowed.
The U.S. Income Tax decision is somewhat similar. The tax is upon incomes above $4000 per year, under the general sentiment that those people who are by reason of superior ability or position so much more favorably situated than the masses should in justice pay a larger proportion of the expenses of government, etc.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been called upon to decide as to the constitutionality of the law. A portion of the Court holds that the law is entirely unconstitutional—that no tax can be applied to one man that does not apply to another in equal proportion; that if, for instance, an Income Tax of two per cent be collected, it must apply proportionately to every man, whatever his income. The remainder of the Court upheld the law so far as it relates to profits or income not already taxed; but held that income from bonds and from real estate, having already paid taxes, cannot constitutionally be taxed again more than the real estate, bonds, etc., of others.
In a word, the Constitutions, State and National, were designed to secure liberty and equality to all, male and female, rich and poor. If laws could be made to discriminate between males and females on one point, other laws might be made that would reduce one sex to slavery and make the other sex the masters. And if laws could be made to pinch the rich, the time might come when laws would be passed to pinch and enslave the poor. Hence these Constitutions were formed to prevent any partiality.
The fact is that mankind are not at all equal; and hence, all being free, the inferior either in strength or intellect, as well as the superior in heart and benevolence, are apt to suffer more or less from the intellectual and financial giants, and need a paternal government that will recognize the inequalities and protect without enslaving the inferiors. But where can such a government be found? Who can be trusted? The one and only hope before the groaning creation is that set before us in the words: "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Ah, yes! when that Millennial Kingdom comes, it will be indeed "the desire of all nations," although now they know it not.
The London Spectator, after telling of the ravages of Influenza during the past winter doubling the death rate, suggests that the world is resting in a fancied security as to safety from plagues such as have visited the world in the past,—for instance, "the black death," with which physicians could do little,—that such or worse may come again, and gives some reasons for fearing them. It mentioned a fever approaching Europe from Russia, and now says:—
"The disease which, when we wrote, had just crossed the German frontier, has now reached the low quarters of Berlin, causing many deaths and much suffering. It is a fierce fever which attacks the mouth, causing the loss of all teeth in a few hours, after which it kills, or departs leaving its victims toothless. Dr. Virchow believes it to be the 'foot-and-mouth disease of cattle,' probably transmitted to the human subject by diseased milk. It is, however, infectious, and moves Westward. We shall know more about it in a few days; but if it reached our shores, it would be a terrible addition to our stock of painful complaints,—and, we repeat, there is no reason, except our short experience of exemption, why it should not."
The Scriptures indicate that pestilences, as well as physical convulsions, will mingle with anarchy in making up the sum of the great trouble approaching, which will be a judgment from the Almighty to reduce the world to humility and submission, and make mankind ready to hear "Him that speaketh from heaven," whose voice shall thus "shake the earth [society], and also the heavens [ecclesiasticism]."—Heb. 12:26-29.